The ‘Soft-Skills’ Employers Are Looking For In A Graduate

Written by Joe Levell Friday 03 May 2019
How to make sure you are demonstrating the skills that employers are really looking for.
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The graduate job market is becoming increasingly competitive, and simply having a degree is no longer enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Instead, employers are looking for a candidate with transferable ‘soft-skills’ that will enable you to adapt quickly to working life and slot into a team - something from your experiences that is more than just a qualification.

Recently, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) surveyed more than 1,000 managers and around 800 students to form a report called 21st Century Leaders. The report outlined the key qualities that employers are looking for in a graduate.

The top five professional abilities employers want are:

  • Taking responsibility (identified by 60%)
  • People management skills (55%)
  • Honest and ethical (55%)
  • Problem solving and critical analysis (52%)
  • Collaboration and team-working (48%)

So, how can you ensure that you demonstrate these skills to a future employer?

Work Experience:

85% of employers want students to have work experience. Of the students surveyed who have done a placement or internship, a large majority (79%) say it has improved their employability. Work experience placements not only introduce you to the world of work, but give you a chance to learn the dos and don’ts of working life and an idea of the skills you will need to thrive in the workplace. Whether this experience comes from volunteering or having a part time job, you are gaining a great insight and awareness into what makes someone succeed in the workplace. Placements also give you the opportunity to prove to a prospective employer in an interview or on your CV that you have familiarity with skills such as team-working and problem solving.

Keep A Professional Log:

Although work experience placements are a great way to showcase your skills, employers recognise that they can be hard to secure. Don’t fret! There are opportunities to showcase the skills that you have acquired through additional activities like part-time work, voluntary positions and community projects. You may not think that helping out at a sports club or working in a supermarket translates to a corporate role, however they provide great opportunities for you to demonstrate your team working abilities and ethical mindset.

Creating a log of your experiences will allow you to take a step back and assess when you have demonstrated the key skills employers look for. Think about any training you have gone on in these roles or some important challenges you have overcome, and be ready to explain how these skills make you the right person for a new role! This is also a really good habit to get yourself into, as it is essential to keep a record of your professional development throughout your career to track and evidence your progression and achievement.

Joe Levell

Joe Levell

Student Engagement Manager at CMI, supporting our student community to make the most of CMI’s membership benefits! @levelljoe